Bryan Zises, Dispensary 33’s co-owner, had prided himself as the last independent pot shop operator in the city after a wave of corporate consolidation swept through Illinois’ booming cannabis industry when the drug was fully legalized.
In an interview Sunday, Zises said Dispensary 33 previously passed up offers from about a dozen multi-state cannabis firms before deciding to sell to Ayr, which he lauded for its financial acumen and focus on cultivating both talent and high-quality cannabis.
“This offer that we’ve accepted wasn’t the highest price, but it was the best fit for what we believe is in the best interest of the people that work for us and for the city as a whole,” Zises said. “We did not think that we would find a partner who was a good fit, and so we were prepared to go it alone for as long as necessary. But this was really a partner who made us feel very comfortable about their approach and what they want to do.”
By ROBERT MCCOPPIN CHICAGO TRIBUNE
The Illinois Supreme Court ordered the consolidation of lawsuits filed by cannabis dispensary license applicants in an attempt to resolve multiple claims challenging the fairness of the licensing process.
At the request of the Illinois attorney general’s office, the court ordered that several cases be heard together, which could help decide the fate of all 185 new recreational marijuana retail licenses.
The awarding of those licenses have been held up indefinitely by Cook County Judge Moshe Jacobius while he decides a case involving two applicants, WAH Group LLC and HAAAYY LLC vs. Bret Bender, deputy director of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), which awards the licenses.
The Supreme Court Monday ordered that a suit by Magic Sparks LLC, against the IDFPR, be transferred from DuPage County to Cook County. There it would be combined with the WAH case, as well as suits by High Haven Dispensary LLC, Green Equity Ventures 1 and Hempathy LLC, under the heading of High Haven.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office had argued in court papers that combining the cases would avoid potentially conflicting rulings.
The licensing process has been in turmoil since early 2020, when state officials delayed it, blaming the COVID-19 pandemic. In September 2020, only 21 out of more than 700 applicants were given perfect scores on their license applications, qualifying them for a lottery to award 75 licenses.
Many of the applicants qualifying were owned by wealthy, politically connected white men, in contrast to the goal of the licensing law, which was to give preference to “social equity” applicants, defined as those from poor areas or neighborhoods most affected by high arrests and prosecutions for cannabis crimes.
Numerous applicants complained or filed suit alleging that the scoring process was riddled with errors. The scoring, conducted by consultant KPMG, resulted in identical exhibits receiving different scores, while some applicants said they were never notified of deficiencies in their applications, as was required by law.
The state of Illinois released their final administrative decision on September 3rd after admitting that "limited administrative errors" caused some applicants to receive fewer entries in the July 29th lottery than they were entitled to.
The state said six applicants did not receive the proper number of entries into the cannabis lottery. Existing winning applicants will not be effected by this but the state has announced that they will conduct an additional lottery in 2022 to makeup for the error.
“From the very beginning, the Pritzker administration has been committed to a licensing process that is fair, equitable, and accessible to all Illinois residents, regardless of what community they call home,” said Toi Hutchinson, senior advisor to the governor on cannabis control. “This additional step reaffirms our commitment to getting this right and places the state another step closer to establishing a legal cannabis industry that is reflective of our diverse population.”
“Our top priority is ensuring fairness for all applicants and correcting any errors in the licensing process,” said Mario Treto Jr., acting secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
Illinois will award 185 additional recreational cannabis dispensary licenses at the end of this month! The goal is to correct ways the state’s landmark legalization effort fell short of its goal of giving minority-owned businesses greater access to the predominantly white industry.
First Lottery: 55 licenses includes any firm that scored at least an 85 percent on its initial application that has not hit a 10-license limit.
Second Lottery: 55 licenses would be available to firms that scored 85 percent or higher that also have at least 51 percent ownership meeting social equity requirements, including living in an area impacted by the war on drugs for at least 10 years, having been arrested or convicted of a marijuana crime eligible for expungement, or being a member of a family impacted by the war on drugs.
Third Lottery: The 75 licenses to “tied applicants,” who were apart of the first round in 2020.
Illinois doesn't seem to be letting up anytime soon when it comes to purchasing cannabis. Taxes are wildly high but it doesn't seem to make a difference in purchasing habits.
More than a third of the revenue goes to the state’s general revenue fund. Ten percent goes to the state’s backlog of unpaid bills. Eight percent goes to law enforcement and two percent goes to cannabis public safety campaigns. A quarter of every cannabis tax dollar collected goes to the R3 program by law. Local governments can also tack on up to 3% additional sales tax.
In Springfield, city officials have set up programs for additional community support through grants to non-profit groups and money to match home and business improvements in certain areas of the city.
-Greg Bishop The Center Square
The Illinois House has approved a revised cannabis bill that should allow opportunities for minorities and women to be involved in the lucrative cannabis industry.
“Like the War on Drugs, the rollout of cannabis licenses has disproportionately impacted communities of color,” Ford said. “We now have an opportunity to correct the missteps of the original lottery process by refocusing on the intent of the legalization bill. Instead of allowing the wealthy few to maintain control of this new industry, let’s give people in areas that have been left behind a real opportunity to start a local business that is owned and operated by members of the community.”
"A state spokesman says the shops were allowed there because the license for each was approved on the same day. So, at the time, “there were no such dispensaries within 1,500 feet of either applicant,” the spokesman wrote in an email." - by: Lourdes Duarte, Andrew Schroedter
This is the response that was given after the state was questioned about the 1,500 feet rule for dispensary locations. Dispensaries have been relocating and setting themselves up in booming areas around the city. The West Loop is turning into what some are calling, Dispensary Row with the number of shops popping up in the area.
What's the problem? .....0 are owned by minorities. After the state of Illinois deemed themselves as the state that would lead the way in Cannabis Social Equity, they've yet to make that dream a reality.
Illinois doesn't seem to be slowing down on cannabis sales anytime soon. The state brought in $150.2 million in April, up 4% from March (1 less day) and up 120% from a year ago.
Adult-use sales, according to the state, totaled $115.0 million, up 209% from a year ago and up 5% from March.
More Adult-Use dispensaries are starting to appear in the city and surrounding suburbs of Chicago. Most, if not all current dispensaries are owned and operated by multi-state operators.
"After being part of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois since it started six years ago, we have made the decision to withdraw our membership and leave the association as of today."
"We do not agree with the direction of the association or the focus that the governing body has established."
Ben Kovler CEO
As the state continues to have record breaking sales each month, the numbers are in from Q1 and it looks like there could be more people choosing Cannabis over cocktails. From January to March, Illinois generated about $86,537,000 in adult-use marijuana tax revenue, compared to $72,281,000 from liquor sales.
As we settle into having legal cannabis available for those 21+ and up the more we start to hear about the other side of the coin when it comes to the legal and booming cannabis industry. GTI, Green Thumb Industries, is currently facing a federal investigation to see whether or not they bought influence to gain additional dispensary licenses.
According to the Tribune "Federal investigators are exploring the role of campaign donations made by GTI subsidiaries to state lawmakers in securing growing and distribution licenses for the firm. Now one of the largest pot companies in the nation, GTI helped secure its rise by employing four consultants and lobbyists with ties to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, including confidant Michael McClain, who was indicted in the ComEd bribery scandal. "
GTI was one of the first pot companies in Illinois to acquire a license to grow medical marijuana after legalization in 2013. As a medical cannabis producer, GTI was also given one of the first licenses for the recreational sale of cannabis after legalization passed in 2019.
As the industry grows and the stigma continues to fall by the waste-side, more opportunities for cannabis enthusiast around the country grows. Now, colleges are offering cannabis programs and you can officially obtain a certification or degree in cannabis. Several city colleges in the city offer cannabis programs at different levels.
Tell mom and dad to make room for your PreRoll Expert certificate on the refrigerator because it's happening. City colleges like Oakton Community College received a $600,000 donation from Chicago-based cannabis company PharmaCann Inc. CEO Brett Novey said the north suburban college and company share common goals of education and training, and they’re excited to help create a new generation of leaders in the cannabis industry.
Moraine Valley’s cannabis retail specialist program was recently established to prepare students to work in the Illinois cannabis industry as Patient Care Specialists, “budtenders,” store managers, operations associates, operations leads, dispensary managers and retail inventory managers.
There are several programs online that teach cannabis basics for those who are looking to enter the industry. None of these programs are necessarily a requirement to be hired but it does make a candidate standout with cannabis knowledge. Nothing wrong with being prepared right?
$62 million from cannabis sales has been set aside for minority businesses and neighborhood development. This revenue comes from the blazing 1st year of recreational sales in Illinois. No funds have been distributed due to cannabis social equity licenses being delayed.
“I’m certainly hoping those dollars get out as soon as possible,” State Senator Steans told the newspaper. “We did a lot to make this the most equitable cannabis system in the country. … We haven’t seen the results yet we wanted in any of those areas, so we obviously need to stay on it.
There is still no new process developed for the next round of social equity licenses.
Social Equity applicants in Illinois are still waiting on a solution for the new cannabis dispensary licenses. After the state reached the billion dollar mark in legal sales for 2020, applicants are hopeful they’ll finally have an opportunity to join the booming industry.
An important piece of cannabis legislation that would’ve started the process for another round of 75 dispensary licenses, failed once it made it to the House after it wasn’t called for a vote before the lame duck session ended on Wednesday.
Cannabis has made a huge impact on 2020 for the state of Illinois. With growth almost every month this year, the state brings in more than $580 million in recreational cannabis sales.
"This is all new money that the state never had," said State Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago). "And this is new money that taxpayers will be able to use for the benefit of the state."
Mission Dispensary officially opened their 2nd location in Calumet City this month. This location makes it one of the first to be this close to the Indiana border. If you live on the south side or south suburbs this would be a blazing spot to visit!
Mission Dispensary has another location in the South Shore neighborhood.
A historical vote was passed on Friday, December 4 to decriminalize cannabis on the Federal level. This is a huge step in the right direction for America and cannabis users around the country. Although this historic moment plays a significant role in ending marijuana prohibition, there's still work that needs to be done. The bill has to pass the Senate which may become a road block for cannabis progression.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or MORE Act, removes cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances and facilitates canceling low-level federal convictions and arrests related to cannabis.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who sponsored the bill, said he thought Washington shouldn't stay so far behind parts of the nation.
"Federal action on this issue would follow the growing recognition in the states that the status quo is unacceptable. Despite the federal government's continuing criminalization of marijuana, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use."
The MORE Act will now move to the Senate, where it’s widely expected to be blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). This session of Congress is scheduled to adjourn on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020.
"New Leaf Illinois is a statewide, state-funded initiative made up of 20 non-profit organizations throughout Illinois who provide free legal representation or legal information to people who want their cannabis convictions off their record."
New Leaf Illinois is proud to partner with civil legal aid and advocacy organizations across the state.
Everyone has their preferred method for consuming cannabis. Most people usually start with something as simple as a joint, bong, blunt, cone, etc. Herb is here to let you know that there’s AT LEAST 101 ways to achieve all the feels you need.
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This site is intended for those 21+.